Space Electronics Qualification for Heat Pipes and Encapsulated Graphite Technologies

Overview

Aavid, Thermal Division of Boyd Corporation developed a combined solution using copper-water mini-heat pipe and kCore encapsulated graphite heat spreader for direct thermal management of high performance ASIC (Flip-Chip and Microprocessors) and have successfully achieved qualification for space flight status. This solution enables high performance, cooling at component level, and enhanced chassis-level thermal conduction from the chassis to space radiators. We expect this to enable a step-change in heat dissipation of future telecom satellite payloads.

Our team constructed qualification test vehicle comprising of three representative breadboard chassis, with mini heat pipe thermal management systems (TMS) linked to a chassis level kCore spreader. Flight demonstration testing included performance testing in a vacuum environment, thermal characterization, ageing & life test and thermomechanical testing. The mini-heat pipe and kCore TMS technology achieved TRL 8 and can be deployed in direct microprocessor thermal management and thermal link applications to overcome the limitations of conduction heat transfer. This paper presents an overview of the technology, the qualification test plan, and the qualification test data.

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